Imagine you only came to Illinois because your ex-husband got a new job. This is not your home. You never liked it, and the only thing you’ve wanted since you got here was to be closer to your family. But you’re a mother and you share a child with your ex, so you’re not free to simply pack your bags and go. There are legal procedures that must be followed or you could risk your parental rights.

When parents have shared legal custody — even if the child lives full-time with one of the parents and the other parent has visitation rights — the custodial parent (whom the child lives with) will usually need to obtain permission from the other parent before moving away. Without said permission, the noncustodial parent with visitation rights can block the other parent’s move. Most child custody decrees and agreements specifically state that neither parent can move to another state without the other parent’s permission. Doing so without court approval could cause the parent who moved to lose custody.

If the noncustodial parent refuses to approve of the move, the court will often side with the noncustodial parent and block it. That being said, the custodial parent can still try to prove why the move is in the best interest of the child. Here are several ways to do that:

  • The child will have a dramatically better quality of life.
  • The child will be in closer contact with relatives and other support.
  • The noncustodial parent isn’t very involved or interested in the child.
  • The noncustodial parent isn’t paying child custody or has “abandoned” the child.
  • The noncustodial parent is abusive in some way, or is not a “fit” parent.

In fact, there are a lot of ways to frame your request to relocate to a new state with your child, but these requests must be done carefully and with an in-depth understanding of Illinois child custody laws. If you are trying to move to a new place with your children, learn more about your legal rights as a parent before you decide what to do.